Reading about Parsh’s unstoppable pursuit of justice felt so timely and satisfying after the past few months! Can you tell us a little about the origins of “The Giving One”?
“The Giving One,” like all the Burnt Empire legends, is loosely based on a legend from the great story cycle, The Mahabharata. I first wrote about it in my Mahabharata Series published in India over a decade ago. I adapted it freely and brought it into line with the timeline and character history of the Burnt Empire trilogy, especially A Dark Queen Rises.
Is there anything you particularly want readers to know about this story, or elements you want to make sure they noticed?
I think the story is long enough, and self-explanatory enough, to stand on its own. I guess the one outstanding take-away I hope readers will carry with them after reading is that the world of the Burnt Empire series is a vast, sprawling universe that one can explore indefinitely without ever reaching the end, with great, epic tales at every turn. And of course, I hope they enjoy reading every last one!
How have you been handling the pandemic (which will hopefully be greatly lessened by the time this issue comes out)? How did it affect your writing?
I’ve been writing pretty much as much as ever, but it has brought out some of my best work. I’m an introvert by nature and was working on a couple of very long projects anyway, so the pandemic, while quite distressing externally, didn’t impact me very greatly in creative terms.
I believe I did contract COVID-19, though I was never able to get tested so I can’t confirm it officially. I was lucky to get off with very mild symptoms and recover at home in a week or two with only a little rest and some painkillers. But it did change me in one respect: It made me painfully aware of my own mortality and decide to work all the harder on the projects I’d dreamed about for ages but never got round to creating. One of which involved a new creative skill that I had to learn from scratch and, because I didn’t know how much time I might have left, I decided to learn with the sharpest learning curve possible. I’m now on the verge of seeking professional work in that skill area, and will talk about it only after I have a signed contract or two. All I can say is that it is definitely not writing. It might even be the opposite of writing, creatively speaking, which is so liberating and re-energizing.
Five months down, and I’m loving it just as much as I love writing, so in a while I hope to be making my debut in a whole new creative field. Didn’t someone say it’s never too late, and you’re never too old? Well. I heart that!
What can fans look for from you next?
A Dark Queen Rises releases on April 20, 2021, followed by the third and final book in the Burnt Empire trilogy, The Blind King’s Wrath, which is already in editing. After that, I’m focusing on children’s books and literary and crime fiction for adults. My debut international thriller comes out from Penguin’s Michael Joseph imprint in hardcover in April 2022. It’s called A Kiss After Dying. And then there’s the “other creative skill” I’ve recently developed that I mentioned in the previous answer, but that’s another story for another day!
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